Papa John’s founder John Schnatter said he’s trying to “get rid of this N-word” in his vocabulary after his use of the slur forced him to cut ties with the pizza chain.
In 2018, Schnatter famously resigned as chairman of the company he founded amid a backlash over his use of the N-word on a conference call. He’s since accused Papa John’s and an ad agency of trying to paint him as a racist and force him out.
Schnatter discussed that alleged plot in a recent interview with the right-wing One America News Network that led some viewers to think he had made a habit of using the verboten word that he was now trying to break.
“We’ve had three goals for the last 20 months: To get rid of this N-word in my vocabulary and dictionary, and everything else, because it’s just not true,” Schnatter said in the Friday interview, adding that his other two goals were to “figure out how they did this, and get on with my life.”
But Schnatter sought to clear up his comments after a clip from the interview went viral on Twitter, where many commenters wondered why it was taking him so long to stop using a racist slur many people easily avoid.
In a statement, Schnatter said he was actually describing his efforts to dispel “false perceptions in the media” about what he said on the fateful call.
While Schnatter previously admitted that he said “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—-rs” without facing a backlash, an investigation commissioned by his lawyers argued his use of the slur was not racist because he also expressed “disdain for racism” on the call.
“On OANN, I tried to say, ‘Get rid of this N-word in (the) vocabulary and dictionary (of the news media), and everything else because it’s just not true,’ – reflecting my commitment to correct the false and malicious reporting by the news media about the conference call,” Schnatter said in the statement.
Schnatter appeared on the cable channel to discuss his federal lawsuit against Laundry Service, the advertising firm that he’s accused of conspiring to use the 2018 conference call against him.
In a court filing he released last week, Schnatter claimed Laundry Service staffers — including CEO Jason Stein — started discussing how to spoil his public image immediately after the call ended.
Neither Laundry Service nor Papa John’s immediately responded to requests for comment Tuesday.